Manawatu Standard

Crusaders won’t be racing to sign sprinter

- Robert van Royen

Don’t expect the Crusaders to offer disgruntle­d sprinter Eddie Osei-nketia a Super Rugby contract, particular­ly in the foreseeabl­e future.

Crusaders boss Colin Mansbridge poured cold water on the prospect of signing him the day after it was reported Osei-nketia and the Christchur­ch-based franchise were in ‘‘preliminar­y discussion­s’’.

The fact he isn’t about to sign with the Crusaders shouldn’t come as a surprise, given Oseinketia hasn’t played profession­al rugby and was never going to walk into a Super Rugby team, particular­ly one bursting at the seams with outside backs.

Osei-nketia controvers­ially missed selection for the Tokyo Olympics, and last week hit out at the New Zealand Olympic Committee over his non-selection, calling it ‘‘unfair’’.

The confident 20-yearold, who attracted interest from New Zealand Rugby in 2019, hasn’t officially ditched athletics, but told Rugby Pass the Crusaders were keen on him, and he was waiting on a phone call from coach Scott Robertson.

‘‘I haven’t heard from him yet, but I’m assuming he’s a busy guy. I haven’t heard anything, yet, from anyone else,’’ Osei-nketia said.

However, the reality is the

Crusaders did not go waving a contract in his face when he failed to make New Zealand’s team for the Tokyo Olympics, Mansbridge said, making it clear the situation had been blown out of proportion.

‘‘His manager has reached out to the Crusaders, we wish him all the best in a transition to rugby if that’s the choice he wants to make, and if there’s some way we can support that, we’d absolutely do that,’’ Mansbridge said.

‘‘He’d have to learn the game before he’d be anywhere near [earning a Crusaders contract].’’

The Crusaders have lost Western Force-bound wing Manasa Mataele ahead of next season, but still boast an embarrassm­ent of riches in the outside backs, including All Blacks George Bridge, Sevu Reece and Will Jordan.

Leicester Fainga’anuku and Chay Fihaki are also on the books, leaving the 2022 roster mostly confirmed.

The majority of the gaps are in the forwards, with flankers Whetukamok­amo Douglas and Tom Sanders, and prop Michael Alaalatoa heading overseas.

 ??  ?? Eddie Osei-nketia
Eddie Osei-nketia

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